We purchased a few Icelandic ewes from Dark Horse Farms in Louisiana. As I was talking with the owner, Melissa Erlund, she mentioned that she had bought some ewes from the midwest and had them shipped via “Ewe-Ship.” I imagined a specialty sheep shipping service and thought, “what a cool name!”
Turns out she was referring to uShip, an internet shipping site that lets independent shippers bid on your shipment, potentially allowing you to get a great shipping rate. Someone is missing the boat by not registering eweship.com though!
Well, I don’t need any sheep shipped at the moment, but I thought, “Hey, I can deliver sheep, horses, and other livestock! Why don’t I get in on the uShip thing?” And that’s how w got started making a little extra cash for the farm. Whenever we get a chance to help someone out by transporting their animal cargo, we go ahead and bid on it with uShip. So far we’ve been as far west as El Paso, TX, North to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and east to Knoxville, TN. So far we’ve transported horses, sheep, and alpaca in our 16′ 2-horse straight load trailer with tack room. Brilliant!
If your animals need a lift give us a call or email, or simply put it up for bid on uShip (not afficliated with eweship!).
This week we drove up to Holliberry farms in northwestern Illinois to purchase our “starter flock” of Icelandics. Perhaps “flock” is a bit generous as there are just two yearlings, a male and female. We were referred to Holliberry Farm by another Icelandic shepherd who suggested that Holly was an expert shepherd and really understood the Icelandics and their genetics.
Indeed, their farm was abustle with activity. I counted at least 50 Icelandics, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the real number was double that. Although Holliberry Farm is focused on meat production, they have sheep from 4 bloodlines, and some of their rams have high quality medium-fine wool. Holly help us choose an unrelated ram and ewe that would maximize our potential for wood production.
Our goal is to have about 10 Icelandics this time next year. We will keep you posted.
Loki, our year-old painted desert ram, is now officially registered with the United Horned Hair Sheep Association. We think this will make it much easier to register his offspring, and makes it clear to customers wanting purebred painted desert sheep to verify their genealogy. Loki has been running with the Ewes this spring, so we expect his first generation of offspring to be born in the fall.
In 2001 the USDA initiated a campaign to eradicate scrapie from the nation’s sheep flocks and goat herds. Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease that affects the nervous systems of sheep and goats. It is one of several transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), which are related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or “mad cow disease”) and chronic wasting disease of deer. Scrapie does not appear to be transmissible to humans. By participating in the program we agree to:
- Tag our sheep with ear tags provided by the USDA that identify our farm and individual sheep.
- Report suspect sheep to a State, Federal, or accredited veterinarian.
- Submit heads from sheep over 18 months of age that die for scrapie testing.
We will begin assigning ID numbers to our sheep right away, which will serve as our official livestock inventory number.
For more information visit www.eradicatescrapie.org.
The cattleman I bought Rocket from called me out of the blue and offered to give me “Glide”, a more experienced yet still untrained, Kelpie. Glide is about 2 years old, and comes from a superb lineage. However, she was hurt badly when she was a puppy and never received much formal training. She has raw natural ability, however, and brings sheep in like a pro. She will make a nice addition to the team. She’s very sweet with people, and even treats the bottle-babies (lambs) delicately.
Farewell to Sweetgum, whom we traded to another farm for a wool sheep. Dogwood is less than a year old, and is some sort of wool sheep mix. Loki has really taken a liking to her!
Although our plan is to have only painted desert hair sheep and an as yet to be determined wool breed, Dogwood will help us get started in wool, but we will eventually move to a pure breed like Rambouillet, Suffolk, Icelandic or Gotlandic.
We ultimately want to get out of Katahdins. Sweetgum, was a pill — always trying to escape.
Her skittishness made the other sheep nervous. The flock is pretty happy with Dogwood.
We recently acquired two beautiful painted desert lambs who were rejected by their mothers. The eldest, June (short for Juniper), was born on December 26, 2016. Thor, her half-brother by the same sire, was born on January 9, 2017. Both were acquired from a farm near La Grange, Texas on January, 13th 2017.
Welcome to the family.
From San Angelo I drove up to Abilene to get our first working Livestock dog. Rocket is an 8 month old Australian Kelpie. Rocket is very fast (thus her name), but very raw. She’s a puppy, so she’s easily distracted. She is completely untrained — which is my way of adding that she’s not a shepherd yet; more like an apprentice. In any case, she’s very cute and adds lots of adventure to each day on the farm.
Raphaela is attending the sheep shearing clinic in San Angelo, Texas, put on by the Texas A&M Agrilife Research and Extension Center. Although most attendees are from various parts of Texas, there are a few out-of-staters and is from South Africa. Raphaela is getting experience on the ethical and humane practice of shearing on the latest equipment.
Humane treatment begins with staying calm with the sheep from start to finish. The shearer tries to keep the sheep comfortable during the process, and cause as little harm to the sheep as possible. A really comfortable sheep will relax completely in the arms of the shearer. The technical goal of the shearer is to obtain the fleece all in one piece in just 41 passes (strokes). High quality equipment and sharp blades ensures that the cuts are smooth and don’t yank at the wool. Shearers are taught to avoid skin tags and wrinkles that might get cut. It’s not that hard to do it right. The sheep walks away happy and clean, and ready for lambing!
Cotton is just two weeks old and seems to have doubled her weight since birth. We obtained her mother, Ash, from another farmer, who must have had a more hands-off approach to his herd because both she and Sweetgum (who came from the same farm) are skittish and won’t allow themselves to be touched.
Cotton doesn’t look like she’ll take after her momma. She comes up to us freely, even eagerly at times. She tries to play with the dogs and shows no fear or distrust of humans. And why should she? We shower her with plenty of love.